A collection of nearly 3,000 rare and out-of-print BluRay discs, DVDs, and VHS tapes from the inventory of a local institution will join the already extensive media holdings of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library–where they will be available to patrons from both the campus and community.
When local resident and University employee Dena Strong learned That’s Rentertainment, one of the largest independent video rental stores in Illinois, would be closing its doors on August 16, 2015, after 30 years of service, she immediately took steps to ensure that at least a portion of the business’s unique collection would remain accessible to local viewers. Strong spearheaded a GoFundMe campaign and the community rallied behind her; the project raised more than $3,600.
“That’s Rentertainment has been a wonderful community resource for three decades,” said Strong. “I wanted to help the Library preserve the rare, unusual, and beautiful parts of Rentertainment’s collection for our community’s use into the future.”
As Strong’s project was taking shape, faculty members began contacting Robert Cagle, Library cinema studies and media services specialist, requesting the purchase of specific titles and series. With the help of Associate University Librarian for Collections Tom Teper, Cagle and colleagues Diana Jaher, Richard Leskosky, and J.B. Capino from the Department of Media and Cinema Studies; Mara Thacker of the International and Area Studies Library; and personnel in the Library’s Acquisition unit set about selecting materials from the more than 30,000 titles on That’s Rentertainment’s shelves. The total cost of purchasing all of the chosen titles quickly exceeded the amount raised by the GoFundMe page. With an additional $26,000 in gift funding from the University Library, the collection was acquired.
“The University Library felt that these hard-to-come-by titles were critical items that should be accessible,” said Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Wilkin. “The acquisition of all 3,000 titles would not have been possible without the financial support of our Library Friends.”
“I’m excited to see such a substantial portion of our collection find a home right here on the University of Illinois campus,” said Geoffrey Merritt, owner of That’s Rentertainment. “I’m very happy people will still be able to access all of these important films.”
“These newly-added materials–primarily local, independent, and international film and television titles–provide invaluable resources for instructors, and have a wide audience off campus, as well.” said Cagle. “Anyone interested in checking out these titles, or any other Library holdings may do so by obtaining a courtesy card.”
For more information, visit www.library.illinois.edu .
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